Saturday, 11 April 2015

Thrail and Zeph

Our 13th Age campaign is back on in earnest as our little band of adventurers have been separated from the main expedition. We have some fun NPCs along with us including two Genasi one of which is a Red Cloak member which is fun for Thrail. The other is a new PC by the name of Zephyr who is a fun air/wind-centric monk fighter who zips about the battlefield.
In a recent the game of Stoneball was created by the group, something played by dwarves which could perhaps be described as something a bit like volleyball but using your head and a ball of stone. The pic below is a drawing done during play showing Thrail describing the game to Zeph. Since this drawing Zephyr looks a bit different so I will leave the pic at this (simple but decent)

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Quirky Stylings of Bobby Chiu

I love the work of Mr Bobby Chiu (Imaginism, CGSociety, DeviantArt), he brings such a wonderfully quirky vision to his creatures and characters which really works for me. I admit to not having checked out yet, but it would be super to learn from his wonderful digital artistic skills.

Each image not only presents a fascinating character, but hints at how they interact with their world, what makes them tick and does all of this while making them odd, weird, cute and zany. There is a story in each portrayal that is wonderful and shows a depth to the characters even when they are just sketchy concepts - inspiring.

Here are a few of my favourites:

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Dragon Age Inquisition - fin

Bioware certainly pulled out all the stops on their latest epic (hopefully no spoilers in this post to speak of).

For me, Dragon Age Inquisition was 115 hours of character development, grand story, lore and combat. I pretty much played the game with the emphasis in that order, so I would do character quests before the main story, would put both of these ahead of delving deeper into the lore and all its secondary questing with my dedication to combat coming last.
While I had lots of fun with my dwarven tempest rogue slicing through the enemy with his dual daggers, I only played on Normal which meant I could get through most combats without controlling anyone or touching my potions even (dragons being the exception).

I have posted on the game previously and it kept me entertained for over 100 hours which is great. The game probably does a wonderful job of catering to a variety of players, those who like exploring right into every zone, who like crafting, who like completing all those side quests, who like min-maxing combat, who like reading all the books and lore you find along the way, who like the whole romance side or who just want a big sweeping story. The problem is that the game presents all of these things and leaves us as players to prioritise them - thus I am left with high levels of satisfaction in some areas while feeling less inspired by others.
I think I would have enjoyed it more if there were half the zones but I had completed the story in those zones, as it was I kind of half completed each zone as I was in there for other reasons. There were strong MMO-like aspects where I collected a zillion quests which I don't complete for people and 'time' wasnt a factor for them - the world just waits for me to get around to them. I loved the War Room - it made me feel that what we were doing was BIG, but then I would go out and adventure - collecting Elf-Weed, defeating a bandit, delivering letters etc.

Since I hadn't played the other Dragon Age games (I know, how hopeless is that) there was much that didn't have weight for me that would have for other players. I did really like exploring the main characters though, they were all more complex and more interesting than they first appeared and their quests exposed their flaws. As fun as these were, the open-world nature of them meant that their quests didn't weave together in any way, that they didn't lead to anything larger. I do love that there was so so so so much effort put into the writing for a game though, writing at multiple levels - huzzah!

I found it really interesting chatting to other players about the differences in how they played, the choices they made, the differences in their worlds to mine and so forth. All up it is a gorgeous game with a huge heart which tries to satisfy so many players. Here are a few screenshots of me zipping around the place having a ball, plus a video of some DLC:

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Gaming on the Table

I havent done an update of various endeavours as far as gaming goes of late. I will post on Dragon Age Inquisition next, but lets look at the tabletop version of things first.
One of the things I have been most interested in is how Narratives work in a board game. There are multiple ways narratives form in the format, some games rely on the story emerging from the gameplay itself much like a sport where the trials and tribulations of individual games and seasons can (and do) make remarkable stories for us. Some games inject strong narrative of their own, particularly when there is an emphasis on theme or where cooperative play is at the heart of things. These three games I have played over the last week or so are very much at this end of the spectrum featuring story, characters, plot and more...

Mice and Mystics

Ok, the game isnt toooo complicated, but we still made a whole bunch of little mistakes on our first forays. These small mistakes made the game quite hard and thus we were doing extra analysis every turn, things should get a little easier for us going forward now.
Everyone enjoyed the premise of the game and the scenario and we were all quite immersed in the world, our little heroes and their foes. Each hero mouse had their own character and brought different things to the group both tactically and narratively. All four of us had a great time and are looking forward to the coming chapters. Note that the audio files for all the 'story moments' available from the Plaid Hat Games store added a heap to our sessions, worth every penny.
Mice and Mystics (official site) and on BGG

Mage Knight

This was always going to be a long game and thankfully I was playing with people who kind of knew the rules. We played it as a 3 player coop game which made it quite friendly, with us building up our power against the various denizens of the world before we geared up for the big city fights at the end. I didnt think we had a chance of winning, but there was lots of hidden firepower in our decks and we swept to victory in that last night.
Mage Knight (official site) and on BGG

Dead of Winter

Another wonderful realisation of a compelling theme with strong scenario based gaming. This time we had a traitor (though nobody thought we did until I revealed that at the end) and nobody won, nobody got close really. This is a very clever game where there is the narrative set in motion at the start, but from there we get a more emergent form come through based on all the random elements and player interactions. Really great fun all around and with some good background music I had a ball.
Dead of Winter (official site) and on BGG

Tabletop Day

We are in the leadup now to International Tabletop Day (April 11 2015) this coming weekend and are gaming 'in public' again this time where I trust the restaurant and passers-by will be intrigued. Not sure what we will play yet, maybe things without tooo many components :-)
Tabletop Day site